SPECTER FLIPS ON EFCA…. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has supported the Employee Free Choice Act in the past, and his vote on the measure this year would make passage far more likely. Of course, Specter also knows that sticking to his position on the issue will cost him dearly in a Republican primary next year, a contest he’ll enter as the underdog.

Apparently, Specter felt like he had no choice, so he’s flipping.

Some big news emerged Tuesday in regards to the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act, with a prominent Republican strategist declaring that Sen. Arlen Specter will vote against cloture on and passage of the bill.

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist broke the news during a speech at the Capital Research Center Labor Summit, saying that Specter’s chief of staff had let it be known that he would oppose the legislation, which would make it easier for unions to organize. Norquist’s remarks were subsequently reported on the Twitter account of Larry Farnsworth — the former Speechwriter and Deputy Press Secretary to Speaker Dennis Hastert — and seconded by Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent.

If true, it represents a major blow for EFCA supporters. Specter was the one Senate Republican to vote for cloture when the bill came to the floor in 2007. And with 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster, his defection presents a major parliamentary hurdle for the legislation’s passage.

Now, a few caveats here. Grover Norquist, a fierce right-wing opponent of EFCA, is not exactly a reliable source. As of this minute, neither Specter nor his office has made an official announcement.

But it’s not just Norquist. CongressDaily and Politico are reporting the same thing.

It’s probably premature to say all hope is lost on EFCA — there may be some other open-to-persuasion Republican who could help break a filibuster — but as of this afternoon, the odds of passage just got worse.

Update: Specter makes it official: he’ll oppose EFCA, and support the filibuster.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.